A considerable number of potential solutions and strategies for supporting the selected energy market system will have been discussed and agreed upon by the market actors in Step 4 in each of the 3 levels of the energy market map. To understand whether these proposed actions can lead to sustained improvement in the selected energy system, there are a number of factors that need to be considered as follows:
Assessing these activity plans can best be achieved through run one or more participatory planning events focused on helping market actors agree upon, prioritise and sequence their plans. The number and type of events will depend on the interest of the market actors and the time and resources available to the facilitator. They should ideally include larger follow up workshops with all the market actors in attendance, as well as smaller groups of market actors with common interests.
The market facilitators can use the template in Annex 1 to list all the planned interventions developed during the market mapping workshop to overcome the identified market barriers, and then facilitate the market actors to identify the factors that will affect their delivery, in particular their difficult, risk and cost, and to then vote on which they think are most important.
Note: It is very important for the facilitator to make sure the market actors are given the opportunity to decide on interventions that they personally want to focus their attention on. However, once this initial prioritisation has been carried out, it is then important to filter out actions and strategies that are not technically feasible and to find alternative solutions where possible.
Once each intervention has been agreed upon in principle and initially prioritised, it is then important to carry out a technical feasibility to assess its potential to be successfully implemented with the resources available to the involved market actors. This technical feasibility includes assessing the level of difficulty, risks, and costs of carrying out each activity, to get a better understanding of the potential issues that will have to be overcome by the market actors leading its implementation. The facilitation team can use the template in Annex 2 to support the market actors to assess each planned intervention.
Although each intervention will have unique characteristics, there are a number of common factors that are useful to consider, as summarised in the template. However, it is also important to note that they are not comprehensive, and the template is intended to stimulate further thinking on the technical feasibility of each solution and alternative methods of achieving them.
The preliminary market mapping and research carried out by the facilitators and market actors during the design of the interventions are important sources of knowledge about the technical feasibility of each intervention, but it is important to also respond to external issues such as government policies, political or social stability, and levels of trust and responsiveness between the market actors themselves. Even if the agreed actions are technically feasible, they also need to align with the market interests to ensure their delivery can take place in practice.
Note: Although the passion of market actors to overcome a perceived injustice, such as the negative treatment of marginalised entrepreneurs by more powerful actors, can be powerful, such passions can also lead market actors to behave in extreme and irrational ways. For them to be used constructively, the facilitator needs to help the market actors identify the root causes of these injustices to ensure coherent and reasoned plans for overcoming them are developed rather than impulsive decisions.
Once a technical feasibility of the shortlisted interventions has been carried out, the facilitator needs to support the market actors to prioritise the remaining actions. It is useful to start by identifying the interventions which are the easiest to implement – the “low hanging fruits” – as if they relatively easily deliver an action that has visible and rapid positive impacts, this will inspire the market actors to try and tackle other more challenging actions. Where two actions have similar levels of difficulty, risk and cost, the facilitators should encourage the actors to prioritise the one that will make future actions easier, less risky or cheaper to implement.
Note: This prioritisation may not always be the same as that of an external actor, but as these are the actions the market actors themselves have agreed on, they are more likely to be carried out and to lead to sustainable impacts.
Once the interventions have been assessed and prioritised, the market actors need to be supported to come up with their own strategies and action plans for delivering each of them. This typically entails developing a step-by-step approach that takes the actors from their current situation to their future vision. The facilitation team can use the template in Annex 3 to develop an implementation plan for each intervention, as follows:
When facilitating the participatory planning events one of the fundamental roles of the facilitator is to channel the animation in the room, and an important part of this is to be aware of moments when the attention of the market actors changes, and in particular then there are tensions between actors. It is important to capture information about both positive and negative changes, and how they can be harnessed to help the actors move towards real change.
The facilitation team can use the template in Annex 4 to document each change in animation, including who was involved and what recommendations were made so that this can be followed up on. Experience has shown that there are 4 broad types of behaviour, which are sustained opposition or support and bursts opposition or support. Each type of behaviour is caused by different reasons that the facilitators need to be aware of, and be sensitive to, so that they can help make sure appropriate action is taken. The following sections outline the usual form of these behaviours as well as strategies for best dealing with them, and things for the facilitators to take note of.
Note: Although this sub-step provides key advice and suggestions on how to best facilitate the behaviour of the market actors in the most positive ways, it is also important for the facilitators to learn from their own experiences and knowledge of the context and culture of the market actors. The facilitators need to be sensitive and intuitive, so that the most appropriate recommendations and solutions are used.
Form: certain market actors giving excuses to avoid participating in a participatory event, frequent ranting, complaints or destructive criticism of the process, strategically trying to block ideas or capture the process for their own benefit. It is normally because the market actor comes to the events with preconceived ideas linked to deep-seated beliefs and attitudes, which they use to filter out or criticise strategies or actions proposed by others.
Strategy: If the disruptive market actor is important and influential the facilitator needs to try and overcome their sustained opposition. Arrange one or more one-to-one meetings with the actor to explain the principle of connectivity that underpins a healthy market system and find out how they are finding the process and which areas of their business activities are affected by others in the market. Try to identify their negative perceptions that are leading to their opposition and, if possible, present them with evidence to counter them. This can be done explicitly through showing them written evidence or inviting one or more experts to meet with them to share the evidence and discuss it openly, or implicitly by presenting this evidence to them and others in an open event that does not target them specifically. The implicit strategy is more cost-effective as it promotes collective learning, but will only work if the actor is open to discussing their positions, values and opinions in public, and peer pressure. If you detect that the antagonistic actor is not likely to change their values or opinions, you may need to re-assess the feasibility of the particular action being proposed, and try and instead focus on actions that the actor is supportive of. Once levels of trust have been built it may be possible to return to the problematic action.
Note: If one or more actors are proactively trying to block certain actions to maintain their dominant position in the market, you may need to invite other actors with similar positions in the market system that are willing to engage. This creates a healthy competition and allows the rest of the actors to realise that certain actions that were being previously blocked are still possible if they work together.
Form: desire from certain market actors to help others overcome certain deep-seated views, sharing of innovative initiatives that require sustained discussion, and repeated conversations and networking during breaks or after the workshops. In this scenario the majority of the influential and relevant actors will tend to support the strategies and actions being proposed contributing with new ideas, resources and connections.
Strategy: Although this scenario seems ideal it can be dangerous if it leads to reckless behaviour and bad planning of the market actors. The facilitator needs to make sure they remain as a voice of reason by questioning, challenging and bringing missing information into the planning process, either directly or through inviting experts. This helps the market actors filter out excessively ambitious or unfeasible initiatives and better prioritise amongst the shortlisted interventions.
Note: It is still useful to start with the “low hanging fruits” to allow the actors to start building trust and learning how to coordinate and collaborate, particularly important as the actions become increasingly complex and challenging.
Form: violent or aggressive reaction from a market actor to the idea or proposal of another, laughter as a product of dismissal or ridicule, actors leaving the room in anger, or high voice volume or shouting. It is important for the facilitator to keep in mind that such bursts are often instinctive, without being filtered by rational analysis, and that any reaction may be better than no reaction at all as it means the actors care about what is going on.
Strategy: Bursts of opposition can signal instinctive concern about imagined negative impacts of interventions on the lives or businesses of certain actors, and need to be addressed. The most dangerous aspect of these bursts is that they can damage relationships within the group of market actors, sometimes beyond repair. However, they can often be overcome by facilitating the group to agree on a set of behaviour rules on how to give feedback in a positive and constructive way, as summarised in Annex 5.
Note: If a burst of opposition creates an environment of aggression that threatens the participatory planning event, propose a short break. In some extreme cases it may even be better to end the session altogether. If this happens it is important to first summarise the positive things that have been achieved in the workshop, and then try to find out the reason behind the outburst, such as the use of an offensive term, or disregard by one actor to the needs of another, and try to help find a solution to resolve it.
Form: actors laughing as a product of empathy or excitement, bodies suddenly leans forward when someone speaks, or participants making signals to another to connect, such as waving their phone, or suggesting an exchange of business cards or a one to one conversation during the next break.
Strategy: As in the previous scenario, keep in mind that these reactions tend to be instinctive, but use them to get the market actors to talk in more detail about a given strategy or action. These bursts can be used to break the ice or to get participants who seem antagonistic or bored to become excited about certain actions, such as through jokes or eliciting responses from certain actors. It is also important to question their support just to ensure that they also reflect on the potential challenges so they achieve a balanced view without killing their enthusiasm.
Note: It is also important to try and understand what has produced these bursts of support, such as how the ideas have been presented (e.g. a charismatic presenter or high-quality video), or their content, or an actor imagining the benefits that could be realised by an intervention. It can be useful to speak to them during a break or afterwards to get a better understanding, as this information can be very helpful in improving how the proposed actions are communicated in future.